Sportspy Reports – April 10th 2005

Sportspy Reports from Highbury Avenue, Fleetwood and Fleetwood Road, Thornton.

Checking on Premier Division favourites Fleetwood Town in their league game against Kingsfield and then on to watch Marshall Court against Brannigans Reserves in Division 3B.

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Last season Fleetwood Town finished third in the Premier Division one point behind second placed Mammas and five points behind eventual champions the Old Vic.  In the league matches between the three Fleetwood Town came out on top but a combination of indiscipline and dropping points against lower league opposition proved to be their undoing.  This season manager Mick Kerr and his squad have learned from their mistakes and it's paying off big style.

At start of play they were in second place separated only by goal difference from leaders Quilligans but with three games in hand.  Fourteen straight league wins had given them an excellent chance of winning the title and keeping the Premier Division trophy in the port.  The most impressive statistic is probably a defensive one – only eight league goals conceded all season which is very good going indeed.

They've only lost twice all season.  Once being to fierce rivals Quilligans in the 4th Round of the Gledhill Cup and the other being to Wigan league champions Abram in the Lancashire Trophy.  Abram beat Fleetwood 3-1 in the last 32 but have since gone on to reach the final where they'll shortly play Blackburn side Mill Hill at the Leyland County Ground (Date to be arranged).  Fleetwood Town have already made it through to the final of the Premier Division Cup where they'll play the Golden Eagle for the Melling Shield.

Next Sunday, Fleetwood travel to play Quilligans in the reverse league fixture at Prebonds.  It promises to be a great fixture with Quilligans going all out to end Fleetwood's 100% league record if it's still intact after today.  Before all that they were up against the Alliance's oldest club Kingsfield.  They've not had the best of seasons and at start of play they were second bottom with only two wins and a draw.  Their best result had come earlier in the season in a 5-1 mauling of the Clarence on January 16th.  In the Gledhill Cup after Round 1 exemption they were knocked out by 1st Division Sanctuary 3-0 in Round 2.  After a 1st Round bye in the Premier Division Cup they were knocked out in Round 2 by Bispham Juniors 3-0.

In the reverse fixture between these two sides Fleetwood Town ran out 8-0 winners.

When I left Squires Gate it was as black as night with the rain coming down but by the time I reached Fleetwood it was brightening up and referee Zak got the game underway just after 11am.

One of the Alliance's longest serving players, Graham Arnold of Kingsfield (left), still playing in the Prem at 46.

Fleetwood manager Mick Kerr barks instructions to his troops from the sidelines.

Both managers were complaining of a shortage of key players prior to kick off.  Fleetwood were disjointed in the early stages and failed to put their passes together.  Kingsfield were well in the game and more than holding their own against the league favourites.  However, on twelve minutes, Fleetwood took the lead.  A defensive mix up between the keeper and one of his central defenders allowed the pacey Chris Coll to take advantage and as the Kingsfield pairing clashed Coll picked up the loose ball and hooked it home.  1-0.

Fleetwood's Frank Cygal

Kingsfield quickly recovered from the setback of going one behind and although they had the minority share of possesion they created the best clear cut chances.  On 38 minutes their persistence paid off and once again it was as a result of another communication breakdown in defence.  A long ball was played forward and the Fleetwood centre half attempted to head it back towards goal.  Clowes had come out and the ball went past him.  Kingsfield forward Dean Sheard won the race for the ball as you can see from the picture below and poked it home.  1-1

Understandably the goal gave the Kingsfield players added confidence and they began to look more comfortable on the ball.  They appeared to be heading towards half time with the score level but just on the stroke of the interval they lost concentration at the back.  A break down the right resulted in a perfect cross to the far post where James Hone had drifted in both unnoticed and completely unmarked to head home across the keeper.  2-1.

At half time I moved on to Thornton to watch another game.  Fleetwood went on to win the game 4-1 making it fifteen league wins in a row.  That sets things up nicely for next week's showdown against Quilligans.  A win there will leave them requiring only one more point for the title as well as only needing four more wins to go through an entire league season without dropping a point, something that's never been done before.  Fyldesport will be at next week's game bringing you news and pictures shortly after the match.  Try and get down there if you're without a game and bring a cushion to hide behind.

As for Kingsfield, manager Roy Atkinson and his team will be back for their 37th consecutive season in the Alliance and hope to stay in the Premier Division if selected.

By the time I got to Fleetwood Road, Thornton the sun was shining with clear blue skies.  Marshall Court FC are one of the few teams I'd yet to see over the last season and a half.  After finishing second bottom in 3B last season they're much improved this campaign.  At start of play they were in sixth with two games left.  They'd enjoyed ten wins and three draws from the first twenty-two games.  Finishing in fifth place was the best they could hope for.   In the Gledhill they were knocked out in Round 1 by the Steamer after losing 5-0.  In the Division 3 Cup they failed to turn up for their first round tie against Pump & Truncheon Celtic who received a walk over.

Today's opponents Brannigans Reserves were Fluid Edge Reserves up until midweek but the league table stayed the same.  They were in fifth three points ahead of Marshall Court having played the same number of games.  In Round 1 of the Gledhill they lost 3-1 to the Shovels and in the Division 3 Cup they lost 3-2 to Athletico Plough.  Defeat today would see opponents Marshall climb above them in the table.  These two teams met on the very first day of the season in the reverse league fixture when Brannigans took the points with a 4-2 win.

On arrival the score was 2-2 with the Marshall goals coming from Brett Dawson and James Myers.

Brannigans Reserves FC in the burnt orange.

Brannigans Reserves Mark Salvin, 42 – twice the age of all the other outfield players but easily the fittest

Referee Andy Leigh shows a yellow card to disappointed Brannigan's player Andy Scott.

It was a good game this one.  Far more enjoyable than yesterday's dire Blackpool match and

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